Published: Thu, July 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Facebook faces first fine over Cambridge Analytica scandal

Facebook faces first fine over Cambridge Analytica scandal

On Tuesday, the ICO (Information Commissioner's Office) announced that it will hit Facebook with a £500,000 (roughly $663,000) penalty over two breaches of the UK Data Protection Act linked to the incident, in which political research firm Cambridge Analytica misappropriated tens of millions of users' personal data.

The Facebook probe is part of a wider investigation into the use of data in political campaigns, which the ICO launched past year, the interim results of which are out today. The ICO said it was providing the interim report to help that inquiry.

The ICO's chief, Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham, also issued a statement regarding the findings, saying that the United Kingdom is "at a crossroads" when it comes to data and privacy.

"A significant finding of the ICO investigation is the conclusion that Facebook has not been sufficiently transparent to enable users to understand how and why they might be targeted by a political party or campaign", Denham wrote, according to the Post.

The London-based firm worked for Donald Trump's campaign team in the 2016 USA presidential election and used the data to build a software program to predict and try to influence votes.

Cambridge Analytica has maintained that none of the data obtained without the knowledge of Facebook users was shared with or used for the purposes of the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.

If you calculate Facebook's estimated revenue for a period of just 7 minutes, it'll turn out to be around $665,000.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg earlier this year admitted his company made mistakes in a "breach of trust" with users and he ordered reforms to prevent a repeat and to give people more control over how their data is used. Among the issues they are still probing is an assertion by Cambridge Analytica that it had deleted the data, after the social media giant requested it in 2015.

The ICO's report said other regulatory action would include a criminal prosecution against Cambridge Analytica's parent firm, SCL Elections, for failing to deal with the regulator's enforcement notice.

"The number of Facebook users affected by this kind of data scraping may be far greater than has now been acknowledged".

It's not the first time, however, that Europe has penalized Facebook.

The sum is barely even a slap on the wrist for Facebook, which had revenues of more than $40 billion in 2017, but is the maximum possible under the applicable legislation.

In May, the European Union launched stricter data protection laws allowing regulators to fine companies up to €20 million or 4 percent of their annual global turnover. The region's competition chief said the social media company had provided misleading information about its privacy promises during its 2014 acquisition of the messenger app WhatsApp.

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